Evil Dead II

“The Evil Dead” is an extremely cheap yet brilliantly crafted horror movie that Sam Raimi and his college buddies put together in the early 80s which went on to become a cult classic. Anyone with half a brain can tell you that when a horror flick’s a hit, you can expect sequels, and almost every time they’re a disappointment. “Evil Dead II” is still far superior to any “Halloween” or “Friday the 13th”, but it’s not as consistently striking as the original, even though it has a bigger budget. Raimi starts with a 5 minute revision of his first film, as Ash and his girlfriend drive to a seemingly abandoned cabin. They come across the Book of the Dead, and the evil forces of the surrounding woods are unleashed. The girl soon turns into a monster, and Ash is forced to kill her.

By then, you start thinking that this is even better than the last film. During about 30 minutes, Ash is thrown into a non-stop series of messed up situations. It’s almost unbelievable how many ideas Raimi packs in this first act: it’s always one gruesome thing happening after another. There isn’t anyone to face evil but Ash, and Lord knows how cool he is! Bruce Campbell delivers once again an exhilarating performance. Campbell is all macho and badass, but he’s also hilarious. The film has him going through many states of mind, from bravery to desperation to insanity. You could say that Campbell is a cross between Clint Eastwood and Jim Carrey. When he confronts blood-thirsty beasts, he’s all tough and popping one-liners, but he also performs some awesome scenes of physical comedy, the ultimate being the outrageous sequence in which Ash’ hand is possessed by evil, and he has to chop it off with a chain-saw before it kills him!

Unfortunately, the film loses some steam when 2 couples arrive to the cabin, and we’re served with a replay of the first film, as the humans turn into monsters one by one and Ash has to destroy them. Raimi’s visuals are still stunning, and all these cheesy FX and gore are enjoyable, but it doesn’t feel as fresh as the first time. The problem is that the other actors are all boring, and once they’re dead, we’re only happy to get more of Campbell. There’s a kick ass scene à la “Taxi Driver” in which Ash attaches a chain-saw to what’s left of his amputated arm and chops his shotgun. The film ends entertainingly, with plenty of blood and slime, and we’re left wanting more. That’s where “Army of Darkness” comes in, the third and best film of the series. But still, even though “Evil Dead II” ain’t as intense as the original or as epic as the last episode, it’s still a very cool horror film with its load of great scenes.